“Atlanta” Braves seek millions more from Cobb County

The Atlanta Braves aren’t getting along well with their new neighbors. After the Cobb County government asked the team to cover $1.5 million in utility expenses the County says is due under the development agreement between the two, the Braves responded by demanding that the County pay the team another $4.6 million for various items, including:

  • $2.6 million for building permit fees the team says the County improperly assessed;
  • $1.5 million for transportation improvements; and
  • $500,000 for project-management expenses.

The development agreement requires the parties to resolve disputes through “private mediation,” and the news report indicates that they will proceed in that direction.

Cobb County taxpayers already paid $392 million to the Braves for SunTrust Park, plus more for necessary transportation improvements, and they are sending additional millions on ongoing basis for maintenance and other public services, such as police officers to assist with traffic management.

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Previously
Ted Turner on the Atlanta Braves’ move to Cobb County
2017 Atlanta Braves Season Preview
Braves finally strike a positive note in move to new stadium
The political costs of a new baseball stadium
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

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Mercer favored over Georgia Tech in Honey Bowl XVI

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Bears like honey. Bees like honey. Tomorrow afternoon, Mercer and Georgia Tech will face off for the sixteenth time in the history of their in-state rivalry, and it already looks like the Baptists have beat the nerds at their own game. According to a just-released computer model, Mercer will prevail over Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium tomorrow by a 22-17 margin. A surprising result, most probably would agree, but a Mercer victory would not be unprecedented. In 1892, Georgia Tech opened its inaugural football season with a road loss to the Bears in Macon. The Yellowjackets won thirteen of the teams’ next fourteen matchups (the 1896 game in Atlanta ended in a tie), but they haven’t played each other since 1938 (Mercer’s football program was dormant between 1942 and 2012), so that 1892 game likely will loom large in the minds of both schools’ players.

Two other game notes: Bears coach Bobby Lamb has his own history of success against the Jackets, extending back to his days as a quarterback at Furman, and Tech will be without two of its running backs, who are suspended for team-rules violations.

ALDLAND will be live at this game, which kicks off at 3:00 tomorrow on the ACC Network.

The political costs of a new baseball stadium

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In his role as Cobb County Commission Chairman, Tim Lee probably thought that pushing through an expensive plan to relocate the Atlanta Braves from their downtown home to his northern suburban jurisdiction by skirting public referendum and delivering the pork for large business interests would, in return, lead to his reelection.

Once again, however, Lee has miscalculated. Challenger Mike Boyce, a retired Marine colonel, nearly defeated Lee outright in an election this spring. Boyce only secured forty-nine-percent of the vote, however, which sent him into a runoff election with Lee this summer.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explained last month, “Boyce’s candidacy is drawing on a deep well of resentment over the deal, which was struck in secret without a public vote.”

Last night, that resentment drove Boyce to victory. He toppled Lee by securing sixty-four-percent of the runoff vote.

This won’t reverse the new stadium deal, of course, but it may serve as a warning to other politicians who, in the future, contemplate similar boondoggles.

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Previously
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

New Braves stadium project continues to falter

One of the cited reasons for the unprecedented decision to relocate the Atlanta Braves from their downtown home at Turner Field to a new suburban stadium location in Cobb County was that the downtown location offered too little parking for fans. After the new stadium deal was approved, however, it was revealed that the new location would offer even less parking than currently available at Turner Field. That, together with Cobb County’s continued resistance to public transportation service, undoubtedly would render the new stadium less accessible than Turner Field.

Now comes news that, when it opens in 2017, SunTrust Park will be even less accessible to fans than previously thought. That’s because funding sources and political support for a bridge connecting the stadium to fan parking has dried up, if they ever existed.

The bridge is an unquestionable necessity, because the new stadium site sits at the intersection of I-75 and I-285, and the latter, obviously an extremely busy interstate highway, separates SunTrust Park from this fan parking. Here’s an approximate view from a June 2015 Google Maps capture:

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While the new stadium will open in April 2017, according to the latest report, the earliest the bridge would be ready is September 2017. Even that late date may be optimistic, though, as it is completely unclear from available information that any reliable sources of funding– or even a consistent cost estimate– exist. Until the bridge is complete, fans will be left to ford the above-depicted urban river by their wits alone. Maybe a bicycle would help?

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Previously
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

Jordan Schafer returned to the Atlanta Braves as an outfielder this past season, and he has himself a very nice condo at the Downtown W. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a slideshow out today showing off Schafer’s residence. All’s well until you see how he’s decided to use his dual-mounted flat-screen televisions. This stopped me in my mouse-clicking tracks:

The man can watch anything in the world, and this is his selection? It doesn’t even make sense: these are the ESPN and ESPN2 simulcasts of two radio shows. Having both on TV at the same time seems at least impractical; at worst, that mirror thing offers more insight on the world than both of those TVs combined.

I love radio, and I love TV broadcasts of radio shows. Having done radio in the past, I love seeing the studio setups and silent communications that make a radio broadcast work. Maybe Schafer and I are alike in this way. If that’s true, though, he really ought to be watching the Dan Patrick Show, which has better content than either Mike & Mike or The Herd and offers a much richer viewing experience. Patrick’s show is a radio show, but it’s designed with a television audience in mind as well; with ESPN, the TV aspect feels like an afterthought.

From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

News broke Monday morning that the Atlanta Braves were planning to leave their downtown location at Turner Field and relocate to a new, as-yet-unbuilt stadium in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, near Marietta, Georgia. This is a bad idea.

First, to clear out my personal interest, I do not like this move because it means I will attend fewer games. I live and work in town. It is very easy for me to attend games, because I can take public transportation (MARTA) from my office or home and be at the park in roughly thirty minutes. As a result, I was able to attend about eight games this season (as mostly documented here), something that would not be feasible following the proposed move. For a few of the games, I had planned to attend long in advance and coordinated large blocks of tickets with friends. For probably most of them, though, plans came together at the last minute, and I was able to shoot off from work and make it there in time for the first inning. I was shocked, then happy, when I first realized how easy it was going to be for me to attend major league baseball games in my new city. It would be a great personal disappointment if I no longer had that accessible opportunity to attend games.

Even bracketing my subjective, selfish perspective, the proposed move is an objectively bad idea. Continue reading

Upton Abbey: Episode 7 – Dessert Seized

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There will be extra baseball in Atlanta this year. The Braves clinched the NL East title over the weekend, ensuring themselves a postseason berth. With a few days left in the regular season, their potential playoff opponents include the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates(!), and Dodgers.

The good news: Jason Heyward is back in the lineup sooner than expected– thirty days after a New York Met fastball broke his jaw. In the last twenty-two games Heyward played before the injury, Atlanta was 18-4. They were 13-13 in the twenty-six games without him. Heyward may not be fully healed, but the team needs him back in the lineup, and bringing him back for these last few regular season games was the only way they could allow him to get back into playing mode before the playoffs begin.

Heyward_Braves_baseballThe odd news: As part of its remodeling effort, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution began offering a live, online feature for Braves games called Gametracker. It’s similar to ESPN’s online Gamecast product. Gametracker is a nice way to keep track of Braves games, but it seems odd that, as of last week, it would think relief pitcher Luis Ayala plays for the Orioles. First, Gametracker only tracks Braves games. Second, while Ayala did appear in two games for Baltimore this season, he’s appeared in thirty-five for the Braves, the team he joined in April of this year.

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Finally, third baseman Chris Johnson has been having a nice year at the plate. Way nicer than anyone expected or really can explain, in fact. One concern entering the playoffs is that, with the offense sputtering and his awareness of his potentially fluky success and the increased importance of that success to the team’s success, Johnson will start to overthink his plate appearances and squelch his offensive proficiency.

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Previously
Episode 6 – I Can See Clearly Now?
Episode 5 – Guess Who’s Not Coming To Dinner
Episode 4 – A Three-Course Meal
Episode 3 – Hosting Royalty
Episode 2 – Lords of the Mannor
Episode 1 – Beginning, as we must, with Chipper

Seeing Barry Bonds

This is not a new idea, but after seeing a recent picture of Barry Bonds, it seemed worth reprising.

Here’s Bonds in 1992. Age 28.

Bonds in 2007. Age 43. Besides having ballooned physically, Bonds is doing a coupe of interesting things here. One, he is wearing a Rod Beck memorial patch, like the rest of his teammates did that year. That’s how I dated this photo. Two, he apparently was wearing Ryan Klesko’s batting helmet. Klesko and Bonds were teammates for one year.

Bonds in 2012. Age 48. From the hosting site:

Now comes word that Bonds over the weekend was hanging around in Aspen and spending time on his bike in the mountains. How much does he weigh now? The guy in the neon green shirt is 6-5, 185. Bonds was said to be 6-2, 228 in 2007.

Time to invest in Bonds again?

Upton Abbey: Episode 6 – I Can See Clearly Now?

upton abbey bannerYesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Dan Uggla, Braves second baseman, would be placed on the disabled list in order for him to undergo Lasik eye surgery:

In the midst of the worst season of his career, Braves second baseman Dan Uggla will have Lasik eye surgery that will keep him out of the lineup for at least the next two weeks.

Uggla was placed on the 15-day disabled list and Tyler Pastornicky was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and will start Tuesday night’s game against the Phillies at Turner Field.

Uggla will have surgery in two or three days, and the Braves think he’ll be able to recover quickly, play in a few minor league games and return to the active roster in 15 days or shortly thereafter.

“It was a mutual decision,” said Uggla, who ranks second among Braves with 21 home runs and leads the team with 62 walks, but has the lowest average (.186) among major league qualifiers and most strikeouts (146) in the National League. “Obviously I don’t want to go on the DL whatsoever, but at the same time you’ve got to do what’s best for the team right now.

“I’ve been struggling pretty bad and battling with the contacts and grinding with those things day in and day out. I think the best thing to do is just go ahead and do it now.”

The full story is available here. Uggla can be a lightning rod for criticism, and the fact that his home runs and walks are up at the same time he has baseball’s worst batting average (supplanting teammate B.J. Upton) and is leading the National League in strikeouts sounds to me like a very Uggla season. With the team continuing to be beset by seemingly critical injuries (and succeeding in spite of that), the question is whether Lasik– which sounds a bit dog-ate-my-homework-esque– can help Uggla.

The idea here is that Uggla’s having trouble hitting the ball because he’s having trouble seeing the ball, and that having corrective eye surgery would improve his ability to see, and therefore hit, the ball. That AJC story includes an apparent testimonial from Uggla’s teammate, catcher Brian McCann, who battled vision problems and is having a great season at the plate this year.

But a 2005 study found “no statistically significant or practically significant difference . . . between the presurgery and postsurgery means on either on-base percentage, batting average, slugging percentage, or on-base plus slugging of any major league baseball players.”

Fangraphs’ Chad Young thinks there’s good reason to believe that study is flawed, however. His article raises three primary issues with the study: 1) it fails to account for player age; 2) it does not place player output in historical context; and 3) it utilizes rigid, narrow sample windows.

Young attempted to crunch the numbers himself in a way that addressed the flaws he saw in the study’s methodology, leading to a number of conclusions, including: a) offensive contribution increased significantly in the year following surgery, and b) players in Uggla’s age range saw an increase in offensive contribution, while older players saw a decrease, something Young attributes to age independent of eye surgery. In other words, “when we account for age and league context, the picture gets quite a bit rosier. Maybe the way I am looking at the data suggests I need the surgery more than Uggla does, but I am not ruling out the possibility that we will see noticeable gains once Uggla can see.”

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Uggla may be having trouble seeing the game right now, but we certainly did not, as our last trip to Turner Field found us in what may be the best seats I’ve ever had for a baseball game.

rockies braves august 2013I have yet to see the Braves lose in Atlanta this season (a streak that will be put to the test again tonight), and this particular game was the most emphatic victory yet. Continue reading

How Atlanta sees everything: Aaron Hernandez as a case study

This Aaron Hernandez homicide investigation is a serious and developing story in and of itself, but it also provides a chance to examine the way people see the world, as evidenced by the assumptions and choices they make.

Here’s how the Atlanta Journal-Constitution currently is presenting this standard AP story right now on its front page:

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